WHO reports on action against exposure to radon and associated cancer risks

09 February 2021

Article: 55/0605

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more counties than ever before have taken steps to protect the health of their populations from radon exposure, although there are many who still need to take action. Radon is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas, formed by the radioactive decay of small amounts of uranium that occur naturally in all rocks and soils, which can accumulate in buildings, including homes, schools and workplaces. In 2019, global residential radon exposure alone is estimated by the WHO to have caused around 84,000 deaths from lung cancer.

As of 4 February 2021, a total of 56 countries had responded to the WHO’s radon survey. The majority have set national reference levels for homes and workplaces, and 44% have developed national radon action plans. A total of 12% have provided radon education for building professionals, and 15% have given financial support to fix existing buildings. None of the countries that have responded to the survey have included mandatory radon measurements in property transactions.

Source: WHO, 4 February 2021